Thursday, February 16, 2006

Creative Focus

When you think of creative writing, you may not think of focus. However, focus is essential to all writing, and the creative exercise is no different. Without focus, you're wandering in a mire of tangents and rabbit trails that will leave the reader confused and frustrated.

Different writers achieve focus in different ways. Some focus their writing by creating detailed outlines of what they want to say. Others begin with a vague idea of where they want to end up. Others only get an idea and start writing. All different techniques, all valid, and all offering their own challenges when it comes to focused writing.

I don't know which method you prefer. Maybe you don't even know. Here are some tips, though.

1. If you work from an outline, then make it as detailed as possible and stick with it. Your focus may change during the writing; that happens. If so, rework your outline so you remain on track with the new focus of your writing.

2. If you start with a vague idea of your ending, or no idea at all, go with the flow. Then, you'll have to go back and rid your writing of the inevitable rabbit trails and tangents that have shown up along the way. It will be difficult. As Stephen King says, though, “Kill your darlings.”

Finally, focus means using the correct words to convey your meaning. We’ll talk more about words later, but for now, remember this: make every word count. Your readers will thank you.

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